I've been writing this story for a while but I haven't had the courage to post it as it's a bit different to my normal stuff. It's still a Charlie and Joey story but the approach is rather unconventional. You'll know in chapter one where it is leading, although I promise that's not all it is about. I wasn't sure people would like it and I was possibly at my most nervous yet but two readers encouraged me to go for it. So, I really hope you like it. Love, IJKS xxx

Room for Two

Chapter One

Sergeant Charlie Braxton sat in the Surf Club with her four best friends, Leah Johnson, Bianca Murphy and Henri Brown. It was their regular Saturday night routine when the girls got together and put the world to rights over several bottles of wine.

"So, have you started planning Brax's birthday yet?" Leah asked.

Charlie looked a little flushed and shook her head. It was her husband's birthday in several weeks' time and last night, he had requested a specific present.

"There is so a story there!" Bianca declared, pointing at her friend.

The girls had all been mates for a long time, with Charlie, Leah and Henri growing up together. Henri had left for University in order to train as a teacher and she'd brought Bianca with her to Summer Bay when they'd graduated.

"There's no story," Charlie insisted.

"No way," Henri declared. "Your voice is way too high pitched to be innocent."

Charlie looked around the room and then leant conspiratorially closer to her friends.

"Have you guys ever done anything… kinky?" she asked quietly.

"Lots," Bianca confirmed.

"Hundreds of times," Henri told her.

"Not really," Leah said, furrowing her brow.

All four women looked at each other.

"So…?" Bianca nudged. "What has he asked you to do?"

The pretty, blonde school teacher had had two weddings in her life. One had been to a handsome, Italian Prince named Vittorio but during a brief breakup, she had fallen in love with a reformed rock star named Liam. They'd not had the easiest of relationships, largely due to Liam's struggle with substance abuse but they had been happily married for six months and looked forward to their future together.

"He wants a threesome!" Charlie blurted out, still rather pink.

"Is this your way of inviting one of us into your bed?" Henri smirked.

Charlie and Bianca snorted. Leah looked horrified.

"It's not, is it?" she asked worriedly. "Because I love you but…"

"Who says she'd pick you?" Henri teased.

"Exactly," Bianca added. "She'd totally pick me!"

"Hey!" her colleague protested.

"I'm not picking any of you!" Charlie squeaked. "I can't… I can't do that."

"With us or in general?" Henri asked.

"Both!" Charlie replied. "I don't… I can't."

She shook her head and downed her drink.

"I mean, it's just asking for trouble, isn't it?" she ventured. "What if he likes the girl better than me or I get left out or…?"

She sighed again and waved at Alf Stewart behind the bar so that he would bring them a fresh bottle of wine. Knowing exactly what the girls' nights out were like, he obliged without objection.

"Come off it, Charlie," Leah said reasonably. "Brax has been in love with you for what, a hundred years?"

"Two hundred," Henri quipped.

It was true that Charlie and Brax had got together when they were barely teenagers. They had shocked the town and dismayed their families when Charlie had fallen pregnant at fourteen. Now, approaching thirty, they were raising their fifteen year old daughter, Ruby and Brax's youngest brother, Casey, who was the same age.

"Stop exaggerating," Charlie said, rolling her eyes and opening the next bottle. "But I mean, it is a factor, isn't it? We've never been with anyone else… either of us. Not properly anyway."

She swallowed and focussed on pouring their drinks. In actual fact, Brax had strayed a couple of times in their relationship and both times had hurt Charlie a great deal. She wondered if that was why she felt so many objections to his latest request.

"What if he's thinking that he's wasted opportunities or something?" she added.

"Charlie, you know I love Brax and he's nowhere near as thick as his brother," Henri ventured, who was indeed dating Brax's other brother, Heath. "But the baseline is that he's a guy and a huge fantasy of a lot of guys are two women at the same time, preferably with their own input in the mix, so the speak."

Leah pulled a face. Charlie continued to look alarmed.

"What I mean is," Henri said. "Brax is probably not analysing this the way you are. He probably just thinks it would be hot. And speaking from experience, it kind of is!"

Leah and Charlie looked shocked. Bianca just laughed.

"We were at Uni," Henri said, waving a dismissive hand. "Everyone experiments then, don't they?"

Leah and Charlie looked at Bianca, the only other one of them that had got a degree. Charlie had gone straight to police training when she had finished high school and Leah had started working at the local Diner, building it up until she owned the whole thing outright.

"We were very drunk," Bianca mumbled.

Charlie's eyes bulged.

"You did it with each other?" she shrieked.

Several people turned to look at them.

"Thanks, Charlie!" Bianca pouted. "Tell the whole Bay!"

"If you did the crime…" the police officer mumbled.

"It was just a bit of fun," Henri said.

"Who was the other person involved?" Leah wondered incredulously.

"Oh, just some guy," Henri said. "I don't even remember his name…"

"Aha, so it wasn't in the context of a relationship?" Charlie said, seizing upon her own point.

"No…" Henri agreed.

"So, it's different," Charlie declared. "Brax and I are married. We've been married for a decade. You can't just go inviting someone else to join you in bed without…"

She shook her head, firmly deciding against giving her husband what he wanted for his birthday.

"You're totally overanalysing it," Henri told her. "You need to unwind and have a little fun."

"Some of us have responsibilities," Charlie informed her.

"Well, if you will have kids when you're a kid…"

Charlie forced a smile but it stung. She loved her daughter more than anything in the world, even more than her husband but she couldn't help but think of how differently her life might have turned out if certain events hadn't happened.

"Do you really think I should do it?" she wondered, toying with the idea still.

"Totally," Henri said.

"Only if you want to," Bianca said reasonably.

"No way!" Leah said.

"Don't listen to her," Henri smirked. "She's married to a man of the cloth!"

"We're not celibate, you know!" Leah protested. "We have just as much fun in bed as the next couple."

"How much fun?" Henri wondered.

"What do you mean?"

"An average of 'fun' per week?"

"Two or three times," Leah replied.

Charlie almost spat out her drink.

"That much?" she asked in shock.

"How boring do you people think we are?" Leah demanded, a little offended.

"No, I…" Charlie said. "How often do you two do it? And that's with Liam and Heath, by the way – not each other!"

Leah laughed, her bad mood dissipating quickly.

"Three or four times," Bianca told them.

"Every night," Henri said.

"I think that's the difference between dating and marriage," Bianca decided of the only member of the group without a ring on her finger.

"Why do you ask?" Leah asked Charlie curiously.

"No reason," the police officer lied. "I just… Really? That much?"

"How often do you and Brax get up to no good?" Bianca asked seriously.

"Once…"

"Once a week?" Henri shrieked. "No wonder he wants to spice things up."

Charlie frowned, deciding against admitting to it being more like once a fortnight these days. Although she had always been very attracted to her husband and genuinely couldn't see herself without him, their sex life had never really thrived. They enjoyed it when they did it but for various reasons, Charlie had never thought it matched the hype that people seemed to go on about all the time. And she knew the problem lay with her more than him and therefore, she had excused him for turning to other women. She also knew that for that reason, she was likely to give him what he wanted in two weeks' time.


Next time… Charlie meets Brax's new employee, a woman called Joey Collins…